Popular Auckland music venue Neck of the Woods appeals for help while facing 'unknown' future

Neck of the Woods manager Courtnee Bolton (left) says the music venue will need the support of patrons and the community to avoid closing the doors forever with no international artists coming to NZ and the local tours on hold.
Neck of the Woods manager Courtnee Bolton (left) says the music venue will need the support of patrons and the community to avoid closing the doors forever with no international artists coming to NZ and the local tours on hold. Photo credit: Supplied.

A popular Auckland bar and music venue is appealing to its community and the Government for help with survival after the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. 

Neck of the Woods (NOTW) is reliant on local and international artists to get customers through the door. The team say they're now in trouble as live performances and international touring are canned.

"It's the main reason we do what we do," manager Courtnee Bolton told Newshub. 

The Karangahape Road music venue has kept its doors shut throughout lockdown levels 4 and 3, and will remain closed through level 2 until level 1, prioritising the health of the wider community.

With zero income for the past two months and unavoidable overheads, the NOTW team are now in a "very tough" situation. 

The team say they're now in trouble as live performances and international touring are canned.
The team say they're now in trouble as live performances and international touring are canned. Photo credit: Supplied.

Border closures have stopped overseas artists from visiting and local talent has abandoned tour dates for the foreseeable future, making a comeback tough without the lure of intimate showcases. 

"The future of level 2 is questionable and unknown for us," says Bolton. "To reopen we will need a lot of help from our community and targeted arts and culture funding support for venues."

She says NOTW and other grassroots music venues are essential, offering a space for rising stars and established acts a place to play to a relatively scaled-back crowd. 

"Without our small venues, there would be no gigs like the ones we host," Bolton says. 

"We need these venues to stay in business so we can continue to build up our music culture and help support local artists, so they have a place to grow and find their audience." 

Staff are currently receiving the government wage subsidy, which means they haven’t had to make any layoffs yet.  

Neck of the Woods (NOTW) is reliant on local and international artists to get customers through the door, Bolton says.
Neck of the Woods (NOTW) is reliant on local and international artists to get customers through the door, Bolton says.

NOTW has previously hosted an array of artists from around the world, with memorable shows ranging from hip hop to drum and bass, as well as art shows, markets and poetry readings. 

"We have a certain 'vibe' here, and we base our venue on making people feel safe, comfortable and invited," says Bolton. 

Local heroes including Benee, @Peace, Ladi 6, The Beths, Melodownz have all performed, while Bizzy Bone, DJ Krush, Marcus Intalex, Leftfield, Big Daddy Kane, Roni Size, and Danny Byrd are some of the international names to grace the NOTW stage. 

To raise awareness for its critical situation, the club has teamed up with the national Save Our Venues fundraising campaign, and are hosting two weekends of live stream events over the rest of May, including a virtual festival on Sat 30th. 

Bolton says she's determined not to give up but will need the support of patrons and the community to avoid closing the doors forever. 

"We are struggling to remain strong, as is the rest of the world, but we do have hope, and we are motivated to push through all of this." 

 

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